Sometimes, not only is it a lazy day, it’s a “why bother to go anywhere else to shoot day.” That describes my backyard out here in the wilds of New Mexico. Sometimes an amazing scene appears out of nowhere and I’ll just grab the nearest camera. That may not be the best one, but light changes so fast around here that I can’t get particular. Since most of the focus is on sky and clouds, that creates a big problem when crunching these down as small JPEGs. Because there is so much subtlety and gradation in those clouds, they tend to become blotchy as they are compressed. So I have to compromise.
Several years ago I was in a photo class at our local college. There were some very talented people in there. We all got along great and had a total ball posting our photographs to FaceBook. In response, we were supposed to post serious, highly intellectual commentary for each photo. That was too heavy for me and I wanted to have fun. Some “Sprite” possessed me and I spontaneously started writing very short stories for each photo.
These are selections from just one of the students who had to endure this—although, he loved it. Sometimes we take ourselves too seriously. GK Chesterton once said (paraphrasing) “The reason that angels can fly is because they take themselves lightly”. This is an odd posting for me, but I thought it had some comedic, and photographic merit. Any maybe someone out there will get a chuckle or two out of it. We sure could use more of that! So here they are…my Great Literary Responses to the wonderful work of Henry Aragoncillo, fellow photo student at the Santa Fe Community College. These are ALL his photographs.
We haven’t gotten a lot of snow this year. It keeps missing us, but all the surrounding areas are getting epic amounts. Oh well, January is typically a dry month in the local mountains. February and March are generally when we get most of our snow pack which is so important for the Spring run-off. The smoke in the lower right photograph is the result of what’s called a “Controlled Burn” around here. The Forest Service will start a fire to burn out dead leaves and logs that could ignite during the hot weather.
Today was bleak, very dark and moody up there, as my title suggests. We are skiing at 12,000 feet and mountain weather can change VERY quickly and dramatically. I always have the tiny Sony HX-99 with me because it fits in the front ski pocket and I hardly know it’s there. The sensor is small, but I continue to be amazed at what a good job it does…capturing a lot of detail with a pretty nice dynamic range. I used to try carrying the “real” camera with me, but it was just too much effort and it put an expensive camera in harm’s way. I couldn’t adequately protect it. By the way, I also would NOT want to fall on it! Ouch and Snap.
Why the fascination with “things round”? Maybe it’s the time of year. Rounds and Circles have all sorts of connections with cycles, rhythms, and things eternal. So maybe that’s why, but I’m just guessing. Right now we’re all looking forward to our annual Christmas Walk on Canyon Road. We may even have snow. Of course I’ll have the camera with me, my see-in-the-dark Sony a6500 with the Sigma 56mm, f1.4 lens.
By the way, most of the produce shown came from my garden!
Earth and Sky. I never tire of these two as subjects. To some it might seem repetitive, but to me it’s always fresh and new. Some of these are from my backyard. But all of them are within just a few miles of home. Finding the “new” and “interesting” in your own, well-worn, backyard and town, might seem daunting; but I’m still enjoying.
We never get tired of the dramatic play of light in New Mexico. Because we’re at 7000 feet, and higher, we get these deep blue skies. Well, that translates into a deep gray in these black and white photos.
The picture at the top and bottom right was taken with a new camera for me. It’s been around for awhile, but curiosity made me give it a try. That’s the Olympus OMD M5 M3. I had one of the earliest Olympus OMs a long time ago. It was called the OM-1, a film camera, and it was unique for its time…small and beautifully crafted. I think I wore it out. The Zuiko lenses were fantastic even then.
So that was part of the influence that moved me to try Olympus once more. I liked the possibility of “focus stacking” in camera and the 1:1 format which I love but cannot get with the Sony A6500 (which is another gem). That image was shot with the lens which Olympus is now packaging as a kit with the camera body, the weather-proof, 12-45mm f4. That’s the equivalent of a 24-90mm in full frame terms. I’ve shot many more pictures since, and I am impressed. Really impressed with it. That’s a micro 4/3rds sensor that honestly rivals the quality of the A6500. Of course the 6500 can see in the dark when paired up with the Sigma 56mm f1.4, but the IBIS on this camera is astounding and nothing like I’ve ever experienced. The lens is also astounding. The weather-proofing is probably second to none as well. And it’s small and light just like its great, great, great, grandparent the OM-1.
The pictures on the sand dunes were taken at White Sands National Park in southern New Mexico. If you don’t have a weather-sealed camera and lens in that environment when the winds kick up, your camera is done for!
I see quite a bit of color-banding and hazing in some of the images. That results from crunching these pictures into JPEGS that will load reasonably fast. The color is NOT part of the original RAW or PSD files. I don’t know why that happened this time since I’m using the same procedure as always. I increased the resolution and I’m still seeing it. I think it’s due to the amazing subtlety and gradation of the clouds and sky.
Others shots show first snow in the Sangre de Cristo mountains. Maybe it will be an early ski season? The other pictures of people walking were taken in my neighborhood. There’s a lot of space out here. Not many people. I like that.
Here you have a dog lover. That’s me (not in the photo). I snap a shot of them whenever some pooch catches my eye. I have three at home, a veritable “pack”. One of them is only 7 months old. They get along great with each other and they are sublimely happy out here in a rural area. They get lots of exercise and lots of playing together. And of course, being dogs, the best part for them is barking at anything that moves! We do have a lot of coyotes and other wild critters out here and that’s always cause for a major ruckus. These are all local dog citizens from the Santa Fe, New Mexico area.
The last photo down there are two of mine, very proud of themselves for having just picked a sunflower. They walked around like that, side-by-side for over a minute. That’s “Lucky” on the left (7 months old) and “Flicka” on the right (2 years old).
I love the ethereal and grainy effect of the night time shots.
This is a bit of architectural detail from a trip to Sicily. This recessed sculpture was quite far away, but the zoom did a good job. This comes from a time when people took time to beautify a building or any artifact. Any comparisons to the modern world will have to be made by the reader, we’ve come a long way?
There is ALWAYS something artistic or theatrical going on in this town. We’re a quite small city with a very large art scene! I think there’s something for everyone. I happen to appreciate both modern dance and traditional. Our philharmonic is wonderful as are our choral groups which famously perform every Christmas Eve. Of course they perform throughout the year as well.
The light in this part of the country never ceases to amaze. You can be the worst photographer in the world and still come out lookin’ pretty good! I’m transfixed by it half the time. But, camera is always with me.
I just got the fairly new Sony 28-60mm “kit” lens. I like this lens because #1 it’s weather sealed. That’s important to me, and not just for moisture, but for dust. When it starts to blow out here in New Mexico, we end up with half of the Nevada desert settling on us. The winds do blow out of the West. I guess that’s why they refer to them as the “Prevailing Westerlies” huh?
The lens seems to be wonderful, but I am NOT a pixel-peeper. I just want it to work well in all conditions and be VERY easy to carry. That way I’m encouraged to always have it with me. It did great this morning with snow falling.
After all that bragging about New Mexico light: full disclosure: the photo in the upper left is from Sicily and the one in the upper right is from Florida. So there, we can all have good light and no one should get too stuck up about it, right?
Back to the main topic: I’m having such a good time visiting all the photo, art and graffiti sites that WordPress hosts. There is such great talent out there.
I’ve been taking a lot of shots of the graffiti found in New Mexico, specifically in the Santa Fe area. Those pictures are entirely different from what you see here. And they belong in their own dedicated site, which is where I have put them. But if you’re of a mind to, drop in. Do. It’s bright and colorful, a little off the wall, and you’ll find some surprisingly good artists.
This is my favorite photographic “haunt”—city streets. Most of these were taken in my home town of Santa Fe, New Mexico. But the two of them with the long shadows were taken in Telluride, Colorado. Telluride has EPIC skiing and is a wonderful village as well. The restaurants are also excellent.
These were all taken in my area, Santa Fe, New Mexico—with the exception of the picture of the tiled roof, which was taken in Sicily.
Sicily is truly a place of dreams.
I’ve just started a new site which is dedicated solely to COLOR! In these dreary times, color just “hits the spot”. I could never give up on black and white, but color is a wonderful counterpoint. Visit “In Living Color.photos”.
Rodeo is part of New Mexico culture, and there is a small one very close to my house. Of course the words “very close” out here means about 20 miles away. These shots are from one of my visits. We can all see rodeo events on TV, but you rarely see this part, the part where a man dies right on the hardpack ground. These men are tough, but they are not immortal. In the bottom photo is a young cowboy, 25 years old, being carried from the arena. He had a wife and new child. The paramedics were there quickly, but to no avail. It still upsets me to this day. That’s his hat laying on the ground.
I decided to include the “Junkyard Jesus” photo. This is another interesting site relatively nearby. I guess it’s called Outsider Art. Someone in the boonies has been collecting what other people would call “junk”, and he, or she, has arranged all of it into an enormous stretch of make-believe. It changes all the time. I find it rich.
The first shot was taken at one of our reservoirs. It’s a quite large expanse and people boat and swim there.
Yesterday I decided it was time to take a bike (motorcycle-vroom) ride over to The Randall Davis Audubon Center in Santa Fe. This is one of my favorite rides and destinations. The winding road, by name of Canyon Road, which leads to it, always makes me feel like I’m in Southern Spain or Provence. It has that kind of “look and feel”. And, just as an aside, Santa Fe does have a relatively large number of French nationals living here—close to three thousand. I often wonder if their impression is the same.
You gotta love the juxtaposition of motorcycle and hummingbird, right?
Back to the story. ( I don’t just meander on my motorcycle.) I made a couple of stops along the way and then headed up there. I’ve been trying to hone my technique for photographing hummingbirds. They love New Mexico and we have many varieties. Who doesn’t feel the allure of, and the fascination with, these seasonal visitors?
But “Why?” you ask, would I want to photograph those guys in black and white? Doesn’t that seem like a travesty of some kind? Here’s why: I hoped to show some of their delicacy, their grace and their amazing aerobatics. Most of the time they’re just a blur! I thought, that by deleting color, I could better communicate those characteristics. Plus, my “pull” is to black and white photography. So there. That was the challenge.
More than that, I wanted to convey their tinyness, almost invisibleness, in the environment. You could mistake them for a bug zinging by!
Smoke has been a real issue around here for over a week. We have fires in New Mexico, just north of my home. But we are mainly getting smoke brought in by the prevailing Westerly winds out of California. Just about the time that clears up, the winds shift and we get smoke from the fires in Colorado and locally.
At times the mountains are completely obscured by smoke. Unusual. New Mexico is known for its pristine-sharp skies.
The one photo up there attempts to show just how much the view has been obscured from the back of my home which usually provides a glorious, sharp, panorama of the mountains—The Sangre de Cristos to be precise. Macro and close-up photography is moving along. I really don’t know where the dividing line between “macro” and “close-up” is exactly. If there’s a “rule”, I am unaware of it, and probably wouldn’t care anyway!
Don’t know why, just felt like publishing more photos than usual. Such is the artistic temperament I guess.